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Focus Group Interview: Identifying the needs of Service-based learning (SBL) in Bulgaria

On January 25th, Budakov Films conducted a focus interview as a part of the planned project tasks during the Intellectual Output 1 of the Erasmus+ co-funded project TOGETHER (2020-1-DE03-KA227-SCH-093556).

Budakov Films was honored and privileged to host teachers from one of the very best schools in Bulgaria: PLHS "St. Methodius", Sofia, Bulgaria. Due to the imposed pandemic measures in Bulgaria, the interview was held online, by using the VOIP platform MS Teams. Since focus groups are a qualitative research method in which people are informally interviewed in a group setting, participants were introduced with the project aims and goals of TOGETHER in advance. In addition, respondents skimmed through the course syllabus which they were provided and obtained clear impressions about the quality of this output.

The interview was joined by eleven teachers who are employed in different secondary schools across Bulgaria. However, the majority of them works at Profiled Language High school "St. Methodius" 203, Sofia. In addition, the principal of the above-mentioned secondary school – Mrs. Tania Trapova was among the respondents. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Petyo Budakov – managing director of Budakov Films and the length of the interview was 40 min.

The interviewed teachers explained that by applying SBL their pupils could take the following benefits:

• Pupils will learn more about their relationship with the communities they engage with.

• Pupils will learn more about their capacity for serving others.

• Refine their decision-making abilities and acquire other career-related skills.

• Better understand the meaning of responsible citizenship.

• Grow in their awareness of cultural differences.

Furthermore, our respondents stated that by applying SBL they could obtain the following benefits as teachers:

• The curriculum will be broadened and deepened to create a richer context for learning.

• As students gain responsibility for their learning, teachers gain new roles as mentors and guides as well as presenters of information.

• Service-learning requires performance-based methods of evaluation.

• Staff collegiality will be further improved as staff work together in an active learning environment.

• Mutually beneficial school/community partnerships will be formed.

Infographic: The benefits of Service Learning in Bulgaria

Our high-qualified teachers explained that the following barriers should be lifted in order to apply more SBL activities into their classroom:

• The current bureaucratic limitations should be reduced.

• Educators need to have more flexibility when it comes to organizing SBL activities, since they are absolutely convinced into the benefits of this approach.

• The private sector should also demonstrate willingness to cooperate in scheduling such kind of learning initiatives and the ties between the secondary schools and the industry should be strengthen.

Mrs Tania Trapova - Principal of PLHS "St. Methodius", Sofia, Bulgaria. Credit:

On behalf of Budakov Films, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all teachers from the Profiled Language High school "St. Methodius" №203, Sofia, Bulgaria and particularly to the principal of the school - Mrs. Tania Trapova for joining our focus group interview! We are really astonished about your her professionalism and dedication to her pupils!

#TOGETHER is an #ErasmusPlus co-funded project.

Lear more about our results and upcoming initiatives at:

* The Consortium of TOGETHER (2020-1-DE03-KA227-SCH-093556).

The partnership of the project consists of eight partners from Germany, Portugal, Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Belgium, Spain, and Italy:

· Berlin Cosmopolitan School, Germany,, project coordinator

· Agrupamento de Escolas José Estevão, Portugal,

· LINK Group, Serbia,

· Budakov Films, Bulgaria,

· Emphasys Centre, Cyprus,

· EUROGEO, Belgium,

· Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri, Spain,

· Eurocrea Merchant, Italy,

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*Special thanks to Ms. Sheila Larrabaster from Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri (Spain) for her invaluable support regarding all project dissemination activities including also this article.

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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